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Friday Interview: Karen Barwick on getting your finances in order

We spoke Laurus Associates about using lockdown wisely to get your finances in order. As a firm of Chartered Financial Planners, the team helps clients of all ages with financial planning.

In partnership with Laurus Associates

The story behind Laurus Associates

Karen Barwick is one of the directors of Laurus Associates in Jesmond. The team at Laurus prides itself on delivering compassionate, knowledgeable advice to clients from birth through to retirement and later life care funding advice.

As a firm of Chartered Financial Planners, the team has secured the highest level of qualification in the world of finances and helps clients of all ages with every aspect of financial planning for the future. The chartered status is a widely accepted ‘gold standard’ qualification for our profession.

Hi Karen, tell us a bit more about Laurus Associates

I always say that working in financial services can be a tough job to describe as it encompasses so many aspects. People just don’t understand what we do. We’re Chartered Financial Planners – but what does that actually mean to the general public?

The first thing we tell people is that we don’t sell anything, we advise. We help people through the minefield that is personal financial planning. Anything from setting up trust funds for children to advising on investment and pension portfolios, life assurance and establishing wills and lasting powers of attorney. In addition, we offer a suite of services to SMEs.

We’re based in Jesmond and have a team of predominantly female staff. We always champion financial advice career paths for women. Many clients engage with us to deal with their vulnerable relatives, and they tell us they’d rather speak to a woman about such planning and financial affairs, so that’s the direction we’ve taken.

We fully appreciate that financial planning can be a dry subject, and many people put off reviewing their finances for as long as possible. Plus, the lack of education given in schools and colleges about financial planning makes our jobs more challenging too. But we’re all passionate about helping people get the most out of their money, their investments and feeling financially secure.

How does Laurus Associates help clients?

Most financial planning businesses specialise in one or two areas of advice and support. That could be investments, pensions, insurances or later life planning, or helping directors plan for their business. At Laurus, we’ve pursued interests in all of those areas so we’re one of a few financial advisors in this area that can offer completely holistic, wide-ranging personal and corporate advice.

This is further endorsed by the fact that we are SOLLA (Society of Later Life Advisers) accredited which means we’re experts in later life advice – the later years of life are often people’s most delicate and vulnerable years, and our compassionate and knowledgeable team provides fantastic advice in this area and for their future generations.

How can people make the best use of time during the Covid-19 lockdown?

There are plenty of ways people can make a start on setting their financial house in order while they can’t get out to see a financial planner:

Make or review your will – confirm who you want to receive your estate or look after your children in the event of your death.

Review your old insurance policies – check coverage, ensure you’re not over-insured and scrap any out of date paperwork while you’re at it.

Establish a lasting power of attorney (LPA) – There are two types, one for property and financial affairs and another for health and welfare. An LPA enables your family or loved ones to make financial decisions, or with regard to your health and wellbeing, on your behalf should you become incapacitated in some way.

Update your pension beneficiary form – pensions aren’t part of your estate and are therefore not covered by your will. If you want someone to benefit from your pension following your death, you need to fill in a beneficiary nomination form.

Consider new insurance policies – it’s probably cheaper than you think. Life assurances can protect your loved ones should you pass away.

Review your monthly budget – delve into your statements and discover what you actually spend your money on and how you could improve on that.

Get all of your important documents in order – arrange all of your financial documents and policies in one easy-to-find folder. This will make life easier for your loved ones following your death.

How can potential clients contact you?

The best way to contact us at the moment is via our website, via email at admin@laurusassociates.co.uk or by calling 0191 281 1234.

And are you still able to offer advice, even during the Covid-19 lockdown?

We’re operating reduced opening hours of 10.00am-1.00pm, Monday to Friday, and can offer advice over the telephone where possible.

While our phone lines are fairly busy at the moment, we’ve also created some online resources for people worried about the impact of Coronavirus on their financial situation – there’s more information here.

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